Harkins: $190,000 grant to fund improvements to McClelland Park

(Sep 17, 2019)

ERIE, Sept. 17 – New walkways and structures will allow Erie residents to more fully enjoy a popular community park, thanks to a $190,000 grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced today. Harkins said the grant to McClelland Park will fund multiple improvements, including the installation of an ADA-accessible land bridge to be constructed across a stream in the park’s eastern section, the construction of a 240-foot boardwalk to improve accessibility over wet ground, and the addition of two gazebos, two pavilions and signage. “I’m thrilled about this funding,” said Harkins. “McClelland Park is a very special place in our community – one that brings residents together to socialize, to exercise and to forge friendships. By funding new structures and creating easier access to park areas that were difficult to navigate, the grant will allow visitors to enjoy this special place from a new perspective.” Harkins noted that the funding was awarded by CFA under the state’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The total project cost is $201,358, and the city will use the $82,671 land value as match. More information about the CFA is available at the agency’s website . Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $376,000 for programs to address domestic violence and abuse, curb gun violence

(Sep 12, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 12 – State grants totaling $376,741 will bolster Erie programs aimed at reducing gun violence and supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The funding – administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – includes three grants totaling nearly $127,000 under the Victims of Crime Act and one grant of nearly $250,000 under the 2019/20 Gun Violence Reduction Initiative. “In addition to helping victims of domestic violence and abuse rebuild their lives, this funding will benefit our entire community by reducing gun violence and the shadow of fear it casts,” Bizzarro said. “The Gun Violence Reduction Initiative being funded is based on a deterrence model that has proven successful by targeting high-risk individuals and groups through direct communication, enforcement and outreach. I’m hopeful that we’ll see meaningful results in Erie.” Harkins added that the funding will also make a difference for those victimized by domestic violence or abuse. “More than anything, innocent residents whose lives have been shattered by domestic violence or abuse need to feel safe and free from the ongoing threat of violence,” Harkins said. “The PCCD funding will go toward programs that help victims free themselves from the specter of ongoing violence or abuse by obtaining protective Read more

 

Harkins joins workers, advocates to rally on behalf of safety bill

(Sep 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 11 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, joined union leaders, legislators and workers’ rights advocates at Philadelphia’s City Hall today to rally on behalf of his legislation that would guarantee Pennsylvania’s public employees the same workplace safety protections afforded private sector workers. Harkins’ H.B. 1082 – the Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill – would provide a state safety plan to protect Pennsylvania’s 570,000 public sector workers, who, unlike their counterparts in private industry, are not covered by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. The bill is named for the 48-year-old Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority worker who died after equipment he was using malfunctioned. “It’s hard to fathom that our state’s public employees – including front-line rescue workers who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us in an emergency – are denied the same basic safety protections afforded private sector employees because Pennsylvania has yet to pass a workplace safety law protecting them,” Harkins said. “Jake Schwab should have gone home to his wife that evening. Instead, he has become a symbol in the fight for equal protection for public workers.” Harkins has been fighting to bring equal safety protections to the state’s public workers for nearly five years. He first introduced the bill the year after Jake Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $18,000 in funding to benefit homeless children in Erie City School District

(Aug 30, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 30 – Fifty-two students in the Erie City School District will benefit from $18,605 in funding serving homeless children and displaced youth. The money comes from a federally funded program created to assist local educational agencies serving homeless children and youth displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, or the 2017 California wildfires. “This funding is great news for students in our district whose families are facing extremely difficult circumstances that have disrupted their lives,” Harkins said. “As legislators, we want to do everything in our power to make sure all kids in Erie city schools have an equal chance to learn.” Merski agreed, noting, “As a former teacher, I’ve seen how difficult it can be for kids to learn and achieve when they’re facing homelessness or poverty. This funding should bring a measure of hope and peace of mind to these students that will reduce their stress and uncertainty and allow them to get back to the business of learning and thriving.” Grants were awarded to 17 school districts throughout Pennsylvania with displaced students ranging from 28 to 495 children. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Grant of nearly $170,000 to enhance operations, maintenance at Erie International Airport

(Aug 29, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 29 – A state grant of $168,750 will enable Erie International Airport to purchase additional vehicles and equipment needed for operations and maintenance, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The legislators noted the funding – which follows last year’s grant of $1.7 million for major renovations to the terminal building – is an important investment for the entire area. “Our airport has played – and continues to play – such an important role in our local economy, dating back to its roots early last century, when it became one of the nation’s first airports to be licensed for commercial operations,” Harkins said. “Today, it’s a thriving hub, supporting businesses, sustaining thousands of jobs, and connecting travelers with the rest of the state and the world. Investments that keep it running smoothly benefit the entire region.” Merski agreed, saying, “I’m delighted Erie International is receiving this grant, which will bolster efficient operations and enable better maintenance to the field’s turfed and paved areas. Travelers to and from our region deserve the safest, smoothest experience possible, and this funding will provide the resources needed to ensure that happens.” The funding is part of a package of grants to 29 airports statewide totaling $13.7 million and funded through the state Transportation Department's Aviation Read more

 

Bizzarro: Nearly $170,000 to fund new equipment, vehicles for Erie International Airport

(Aug 28, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 28 – A state grant of $168,750 will ensure that Erie International Airport/Tom Ridge Field continues to operate smoothly and safely, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced today. Bizzarro said the grant will fund the purchase of equipment needed to maintain the airport’s facilities – including the turfed and paved areas – and additional vehicles to support airport operations. “I’m so glad we were successful in our efforts to secure this funding,” Bizzarro said. “Erie International Airport is more than a convenient transportation hub. It sustains hundreds of regional jobs, supports tourism, helps bolster commerce and serves as a connection point to worldwide destinations. Funding to keep it functioning safely and efficiently is one of the most important investments the state can make.” Bizzarro noted that the funding provides an excellent opportunity to build on progress enabled by a $1.7 million grant the airport received last year for a major renovation of the terminal building. The funding is part of a package of grants to 29 airports statewide totaling $13.7 million and funded through the state Transportation Department's Aviation Transportation Assistance Program, Aviation Development Program and the Multimodal Fund. As of April 2019, Pennsylvania ranks 13th in the country in the number of public-use aviation facilities with 127 airports, heliports and seaplane bases. Read more

 

Merski: School supplies still needed as drive enters final week

(Aug 26, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 26 – With some area schools starting today and others scheduled for just after Labor Day, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is reminding residents that this is the last week of his “Back- to-School Supplies Drive” to help families in need. “We’ve had an excellent response to our school supply drive so far, which is a testament to our community’s wonderful, caring spirit,” Merski said. “In addition to saying a hearty thanks for what we’ve collected so far, I want to remind everyone that the drive ends this Friday, Aug. 30, and that we can still use more supplies. “Although many families try to budget for back-to-school shopping, buying all the necessary supplies can put a dent in tight budgets – especially for families with multiple kids in school. Donating to our drive is a great way to help make sure that all kids in our community start the school year off feeling prepared and confident in the knowledge that they have the tools they need to succeed.” Merski said residents can donate new school supplies to one of these three locations between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.: Merski’s district office, 3901 Liberty St.; his Summit Township satellite office (open Tuesdays only), 1230 Townhall Road W.; or the Belle Valley VFD Station 36, 1514 Norcross Road. Merski said the following items are especially helpful: Markers, including highlighters, color markers, dry-erase markers and Read more

 

Merski, Policy Committee investigate ways to grow technology workforce

(Aug 19, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 19 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, held a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing today at Mercyhurst University to discuss ways Pennsylvania can bolster its technology workforce. “It’s clear that the tech industry is only continuing to grow, fueled by businesses’ demand for state-of-the-art information technology and cybersecurity services,” Merski said. “Cities like Erie are quickly becoming home to startup tech companies that bring jobs and help stimulate the economy.” Joining Merski were legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. Sturla added: “Companies need highly skilled workers to compete, and bridging the skills gap is especially challenging in the tech field, which is constantly evolving.Today’s hearing on how we can bolster our tech workforce to keep pace with demand was a great first step.” Testifiers included Dr. Leanne Roberts, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Mercyhurst University; Steven Mauro, vice president of academic administration, Gannon University; and Karl Sanchak, president and CEO, Erie Innovation District. The hearing was one in a series being held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first by growing good jobs, providing health care access, creating quality schools and providing training for jobs in a fair economy. More information about the plan is Read more

 

Bizzarro’s Senior Fair attracts large turnout, enthusiastic crowd

(Aug 19, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 19 – A robust and enthusiastic crowd attended the 7 th Annual Senior Fair & Older Living Expo today hosted by State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie. Visitors who packed the first floor of McDowell Intermediate High School this morning browsed dozens of exhibits and filled their bags with program brochures, state applications and free samples. Many participated in free health screenings. Bizzarro said he particularly enjoyed getting to talk one-on-one with seniors around the community. “Today’s event was one of our best yet, and that’s a testament to the energy and enthusiasm of the nearly 1,700 seniors who stopped by,” Bizzarro said. “I had the chance to talk one-on-one with so many seniors in our community, and once again this year, they wowed me with their enthusiasm and their insights. “There are few things more satisfying than seeing the folks I serve coming out to engage with the community and knowing that they’re leaving with a feeling that they’ve learned some new ways to enrich their lives.” Bizzarro will join state Sen. Michele Brooks to co-host a similar free event – the Edinboro Senior Fair – from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Sept. 27, at the Edinboro Volunteer Fire Department, 125 Meadville St. in Edinboro. Read more

 

Grant to boost Cambria County tourism, outdoor opportunities

(Aug 10, 2019)

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, was proud to help Rock Run Recreation secure a $53,800 state grant to help maintain its 140-mile outdoor recreation trail system. Read more

 

Bizzarro to host Senior Fair & Older Living Expo Aug. 19

(Aug 09, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 9 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, will host his 7 th annual Senior Fair & Older Living Expo from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Aug. 19 at McDowell Intermediate High School, 3320 Caughey Road. The free event will feature about 80 exhibitors, valuable information on state programs, free health screenings, refreshments, door prizes and more. “The fair is one of the most exciting events I host each year because of all the energy our senior community brings,” Bizzarro said. “Erie’s seniors are an active, engaged group who understand that Pennsylvania offers a wealth of programs and services for older adults. The fair provides a great opportunity for them to learn about new and existing programs; pick up applications and brochures; and talk to staff, who will be on-hand to answer questions. “Once again this year, the fair will feature dozens of community exhibitors offering a look at all the latest resources important to older adults – from health, nutrition and fitness, to housing, home care, transportation and financial services. The best part is that every year, seniors come away with a better understanding of how to make the most of their retirement years.” Additional parking will be available in the parking lot adjacent to the Gus Anderson Field, located off Caughey Road, with shuttle service available to and from the fair. Residents interested in learning more should contact Bizzarro’s office Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $75,000 grant to local university for teacher training

(Aug 06, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 6 – A $75,000 state grant will help Gannon University develop cutting-edge residency programs that will provide advanced training to teachers, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education is one of 11 grants awarded to universities statewide to support teacher and principal residency programs. The goal is to bolster and diversify the state’s educator workforce to better serve high-need areas. “Teacher training is a dynamic area, and like many other professionals, teachers in training benefit greatly from real-world experience,” Merski said. “My own training as a teacher began with the hands-on cadet teacher program, which builds in-classroom experiences from day one alongside teacher education courses.” Harkins added, “Historically, so many of our communities have faced problems attracting and retaining good teachers. The funding announced today will allow Gannon University to develop the best possible clinical residency programs to turn out educators who are well-equipped to serve in our most high-need areas.” Clinical residency programs must be developed in partnership with at least one high-need local education agency that serves high rates of historically underserved students or demonstrates chronic, multiple teacher shortages in key certification areas, including special education and English as a second language. The Read more

 

Local legislators announce $10.5 million in grants for Erie projects

(Aug 01, 2019)

ERIE, Aug. 1 – State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today that $10.5 million in grants have been awarded under the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to fund projects around the region. The legislators noted that the grants will provide benefits for generations to come. “I’ve always been a proponent of regional representation and understand the value of community assets that go beyond legislative district boundaries,” Bizzarro said. “I am proud to have worked diligently with my colleagues, House leadership, administrative leadership and community innovators to secure this funding for our community. “These grant benefits will extend far beyond the individual campus, facility or neighborhood project receiving the investment – they will enhance learning, living, shopping and economic opportunities for residents and generations to come in each of our legislative districts.” “These grants are incredible news for Erie,” Harkins said. “I’m especially pleased that we were successful in our efforts to help secure $2 million in funding for the project to expand Saint Vincent. My wife and I – and all three of our children – were born there, and we have many friends who work there. It is truly a regional investment.” Merski agreed, saying, “These state investments in the city of Erie are critical to accelerating our transformation. From Read more

 

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro: More than $250,000 in grants will bring fresh fruits and vegetables to school menus

(Jul 16, 2019)

ERIE, July 15 – Erie County elementary school students will see more fresh fruits and vegetables on the school menu thanks to $251,047 in grants awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, state Reps. Pat Harkins, Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, announced today. “The nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables are essential for ensuring kids’ healthy growth and bolstering their immune systems, which is so important in a school setting, where kids are in constant close contact,” Harkins said. “I’m so glad we were successful in our efforts to secure this funding.” Merski agreed, noting, “As an educator for many years, I have seen how proper nutrition improves memory skills and boosts academic performance. I’m delighted that our students will be seeing this incredibly important addition to the school menu.” Bizzarro added that the grants help start healthy patterns, saying, “By introducing kids to fresh fruits and vegetables at an early age, we’re helping them understand that healthy eating is a choice that’s available to them and that it feels better than junk food, hopefully a lesson they’ll carry with them for life.” The grants to the First, Second and Third Legislative Districts, by school district, are as follows: Erie City School District Diehl Elementary School – $29,440 Edison Elementary School – Read more

 

Merski attends Bayview Park ribbon-cutting of new splash pad

(Jul 15, 2019)

ERIE, July 15 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony today celebrating the opening of a new splash pad water feature at Bayview Park. The new water feature, which was funded in part by a $60,000 Keystone Communities grant to Our West Bayfront, includes a large, colorful hose sculpture that will spray cool water in all directions. “I’m delighted that we were able to assist in securing funding toward the construction of this new splash pad, which is going to provide hours of refreshing fun in the sun for our kids,” Merski said. “Beyond providing a safe recreational outlet, the new water feature will bring together members of the community. Parents and other family members coming to watch the kids will be connecting with other parents and forging new friendships. Improvements like this don’t just improve the physical landscape – they broaden our community horizons and help neighbors develop stronger ties to one another.” The Keystone Communities program is administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The program is designed to support local initiatives that grow and stabilize neighborhoods and communities, encourage the creation of partnerships between the public and private sectors in the community and enhance overall quality of life for residents. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $450,000 in funding to benefit Erie affordable housing, blight reduction projects

(Jul 12, 2019)

ERIE, July 12 – Erie County projects to expand affordable housing and reduce blight will receive $450,000 through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement fund, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. “This funding is critically important for members of our community in need of housing – particularly those who may be homeless or struggling to make ends meet,” Harkins said. “It’s especially good to know that our efforts to help secure funding were successful because the organizations benefiting, such as Mercy Center for Women, do such vital work in helping residents regain productive lives.” Bizzarro agreed, noting that projects to expand affordable housing are good for the community on multiple levels. “These projects will not only expand affordable housing options for the working families of Erie, they will create jobs and spur increased economic activity,” Bizzarro said. “The projects will open doors for residents in so many ways.” Merski pointed out that the funding will also bolster efforts to revitalize vacant, blighted areas. “It’s great to see part of this funding go toward breathing life back into blighted, vacant areas of our community,” Merski said. “During my years on city council, I drafted the ordinance creating the city land bank for this very purpose. With this funding, the land bank can Read more

 

Seniors ride free with Merski

(Jul 10, 2019)

ERIE, July 10 – At a joint news conference today, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, and the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority announced a new program that allows seniors to obtain free bus passes – which they can use to ride any EMTA bus for free – at Merski’s district office. Merski said helping residents with essential services such as transportation is one of his office’s key functions. “One of our most important jobs here in Erie is to help make life easier for residents, and particularly those who may be facing mobility issues or other challenges,” Merski said. “That’s why I’m so excited that our office is now offering the free Senior Identification cards that allow eligible residents to enjoy EMTA’s free senior ride program. “The best part is, our office can help make this a ‘one-stop-shop’ process in which we supply the application, provide any help the senior may need with applying, and then issue the card itself that same day. It saves time and effort, and it’s a great way to give back to the many seniors who have done so much to enrich our community.” Merski’s district office is located at 3901 Liberty St., 16509. Seniors who come in to apply must bring an acceptable proof-of-age document, which may include: a valid driver’s license, birth certificate, armed forces discharge or separation papers, passport or naturalization papers, a PACE card, a Read more

 

Bizzarro: New state-based insurance exchange a huge win for state’s insurance consumers

(Jul 03, 2019)

HARRISBURG, July 3 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, lauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s signing of legislation Bizzarro co-sponsored that will create a state-based insurance exchange for private plans under the Affordable Health Care Act. “This new law is tremendous news for the nearly 400,000 Pennsylvanians who rely on private insurance under the ACA and have been dealing with rising premiums,” Bizzarro said, noting that in the past, insurance consumers have relied on an insurance marketplace run by the federal government. “By stepping in and establishing its own state-run exchange, the commonwealth is paving the way for a more efficient system that will generate millions in savings. It’s a classic case of the state being able to accomplish something more efficiently than the federal government – with the savings realized going directly to the benefit of our state’s insurance consumers.” Bizzarro said Pennsylvania can operate its own insurance exchange at a cost of nearly one-third the amount the federal government collects from insurers to operate the federal exchange. The state can then use those millions in “user fees” no longer being paid to the federal government to create a reinsurance plan that will help insurers defray their risk. “The winner in all of this will be the state’s insurance consumers, who will benefit from lower, more stable premiums,” Bizzarro said. “We know these Read more

 

Merski: Governor signs into law Military Family Education Program

(Jul 01, 2019)

HARRISBURG, July 1 – Pennsylvania National Guard members who reenlist for a second obligation will be able to earn college education benefits for their family members under a new law signed today by Gov. Tom Wolf, according to state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “It’s terrific to know that this legislation – the first of its kind in the nation – is now law,” Merski said. “I supported the legislation because it accomplishes several important purposes. First, it promises to boost our state Guard retention rate by offering members who commit to a second obligation of six years a chance to earn college education benefits for their spouses or children. “Second, the law provides a meaningful way to thank the many Guard family members who sacrifice time with their loved ones whenever they must report to duty. We have one of the largest and most committed Guards in the nation, and that’s a testament both to our service members and their supportive families. This is a great way to honor them.” Merski noted that under the program, Guard members who commit to an additional six years of service can receive five years of higher education benefits for their spouses and children. The program will provide family members with 10 semesters of tuition-free education. The benefit must be used at an educational institution approved by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and at the Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Grant of nearly $3,000 to support Erie Earth Day Festival

(Jun 28, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 28 – A $2,955 mini grant to Gannon University will help support Erie Earth Day Festival 2020 and its efforts to raise awareness about environmental issues such as air and water quality, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced. “The grant announced today is great news for Erie because it supports an annual event attended by so many in our community who are concerned about the environmental impact of issues like climate change,” Merski said. “Funding for the event is especially important in light of the many students who attend. As the need for conservation and protection become more evident each year, environmental education becomes an increasingly important supplement to classroom learning.” Harkins agreed, noting that the event generates community-wide involvement. “It’s important that we face critical, time-sensitive issues like climate change, water conservation and air quality as a community because they impact all of us,” Harkins said. “Events like the festival – which bring together local green businesses, advocates, organizations and colleges – are a great way to educate the community, generate energy, and inspire everyone to become involved.” The grant is one of a package of Environmental Education mini grants awarded by DEP to encourage environmental awareness in students and adults. Projects receiving priority include those that educate and Read more

 

Harkins: $190,000 grant to fund improvements to McClelland Park
Sep 17, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $376,000 for programs to address domestic violence and abuse, curb gun violence
Sep 12, 2019

Harkins joins workers, advocates to rally on behalf of safety bill
Sep 11, 2019

Harkins, Merski: More than $18,000 in funding to benefit homeless children in Erie City School District
Aug 30, 2019

Harkins, Merski: Grant of nearly $170,000 to enhance operations, maintenance at Erie International Airport
Aug 29, 2019

Bizzarro: Nearly $170,000 to fund new equipment, vehicles for Erie International Airport
Aug 28, 2019

Merski: School supplies still needed as drive enters final week
Aug 26, 2019

Merski, Policy Committee investigate ways to grow technology workforce
Aug 19, 2019

Bizzarro’s Senior Fair attracts large turnout, enthusiastic crowd
Aug 19, 2019

Grant to boost Cambria County tourism, outdoor opportunities
Aug 10, 2019

Bizzarro to host Senior Fair & Older Living Expo Aug. 19
Aug 09, 2019

Merski, Harkins: $75,000 grant to local university for teacher training
Aug 06, 2019

Local legislators announce $10.5 million in grants for Erie projects
Aug 01, 2019

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro: More than $250,000 in grants will bring fresh fruits and vegetables to school menus
Jul 16, 2019

Merski attends Bayview Park ribbon-cutting of new splash pad
Jul 15, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $450,000 in funding to benefit Erie affordable housing, blight reduction projects
Jul 12, 2019

Seniors ride free with Merski
Jul 10, 2019

Bizzarro: New state-based insurance exchange a huge win for state’s insurance consumers
Jul 03, 2019

Merski: Governor signs into law Military Family Education Program
Jul 01, 2019

Harkins, Merski: Grant of nearly $3,000 to support Erie Earth Day Festival
Jun 28, 2019